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December 5, 2016 Issue

CEOCFO MAGAZINE

 

Strategic Planning, Program and Project Management for the Government and Intelligence Community providing System Analysis, Acquisition, Logistics, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Support

 

Ann M. Kane

Founder

 

Innovate International Intelligence & Integration, LLC.

www.i-4llc.com

 

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – December 5, 2016

 

CEOCFO: Ms. Kane, would you tell us the vision when you started Innovate International Intelligence & Integration ten years ago?

Ms. Kane: My vision for the company actually started long before I ever had a company of my own. While I served in the military, I would often work with employees of organizations that had won government contracts and I actually felt sorry for them. Many times these employees were placed in areas in which they had little real prior experience and they were left to flounder and figure out the job without proper training, guidance and support. I decided back then that if I ever had the chance to run my own company I would do things differently. I would offer quality, affordable services that would meet all my customers’ needs by utilizing well-trained, well-prepared employees who would be supported and cared for by the company.

 

CEOCFO: Have you been able to achieve those goals?

Ms. Kane: I believe I have been able to achieve those goals. We have a very good reputation with our government customers and throughout the marketplace. In a niche market like ours – professional program management in the intelligence community – it is necessary to have employees that are satisfied, happy and taken care of. Many of our employees have been with me since the very founding of the company.

 

CEOCFO: What projects do you bid on, in general?

Ms. Kane: We do a lot of work at the major command or headquarters level. We will get tasked with work on various projects through the government agent or military action officers in charge of a project. Sometimes they just don’t have the prior experience necessary to see the project management process through, ensuring that all aspects of the project are completed on time and on budget. The first thing we do is look at the scope of the project to determine scheduling and financing for each step. Some projects require assistance in procuring the correct equipment for their operations; others may need a simple facility refurbish while others demand an entire facilities rebuild. In those situations, we will bring in people to help assess the size and the infrastructure needs – heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, everything.

 

CEOCFO: Are people coming to you or do you need to bid on the projects?

Ms. Kane: We work both ways. Private industry can come to us directly with a project but government contracts are much more rigid and they must be bid on to ensure that government protocol is met and regulations are followed.

 

CEOCFO: Clearly being in Georgia has not hurt your efforts. Are there advantages to being based in Georgia?

Ms. Kane: The location of our headquarters doesn’t really matter. What matters is being able to remotely manage our workforce and being able to adapt to the various locations in which our people work. While our home office is in Georgia, many of our people currently work in the D.C. area. We also have people in six other states. Because of that, we are a flexible company that can expand and adapt to meet the needs of our customers no matter where they are.

 

CEOCFO: When Innovate is assessing a project and working on a solution, what do you look at that less experienced people may not understand might come into the mix?

Ms. Kane: It’s funny that you ask that because our ability to see potential problems others don’t and solve them while still in the planning phase is really what sets us apart in our industry. Most of our people come to I-4 with several years in the intelligence community and they understand the little issues that can arise while working in a secure location that others may not even think of. For instance, how do you handle restroom breaks and traffic flow in a secure location? Are you going to require your people to badge out and back in just to use the restroom or refill their coffee? Where do you store your other, non-mission essential equipment? Where do you put the operations center so that it can remain secure during missions? These are the questions that, if not answered before design and building of a facility, can drive the people working in a secure location crazy. It is the attention to these little details that make us successful at what we do.

 

CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp up for additional projects?

Ms. Kane: We are able to ramp up as the need arises. We have resumes from highly qualified individuals who would love to come to work for us. In some cases I have been able to call them and put them to work as soon as they could be released from their previous position.

 

CEOCFO: How do you stay up to date on what you need to know to do a good job for a client?

Ms. Kane: Maintaining contacts in the field is a great way to keep up-to-date with what is needed in the field, but we also belong to various associations and attending those association meetings and conferences allows me to really listen for what is being said about the needs in government contracting.

                                 

CEOCFO: Does the upcoming change of administration filter down?

Ms. Kane: It does filter down. Each administration has their concept of the world, their view of the world and where we belong in that world. It does affect all the way down to our level because there are a lot of moving parts to what we do and it is very much affected by the government and the administration that is in charge.

 

CEOCFO: Is there any way to prepare?

Ms. Kane: For us, it is a matter of being on our toes at all times. One of our biggest issues right now is international terrorism and it is difficult to be totally prepared for that because we cannot accurately predict when and where the next thing will occur. Always being on top of our game is the best thing we can do.

 

CEOCFO: There is a perception that the government does not function well and that technology in government and communication among agencies is less than optimal. There is a feeling that the government does not want to put its best foot forward. How do you work within that system?

Ms. Kane: The intelligence community is still very much a bureaucracy so you have multiple layers of management and regulation. For the most part there is a reason why those regulations are there and it is to protect our privacy which is something we hold dear here in the United States. I have to say that the people we work with are very dedicated and motivated whether they are military or civilian and they truly give their all, no matter what type of equipment they are working with.

 

CEOCFO: What do you bring from your military background of what or what not to do in business?

Ms. Kane: Before I made Chief Master Sergeant, I asked a chief I had worked for and respected what his words of wisdom for me would be. He told me that the people are the greatest thing about the job and the people are the worst thing about the job. What I took away from that was a need to really understand my customers and my employees. When the people who work for you feel valued and cared for, they put forth their best effort and they in turn take care of our customers.

 

CEOCFO: Are you surprised that so many people in business do not understand that?

Ms. Kane: I think one of the things that I have seen is that a lot of companies get too drawn in to the bottom line. It is always about trying to expand that profit margin. In some cases, they do that at the expense of the well-being of their employees. Letting my employees know that they are the most important component of the company, that they matter and that I care about them as people, reaching out them when they are experiencing good times and tragedy costs me nothing except a little bit of time. But it pays great dividends in the loyalty and work ethic of my people.

 

CEOCFO: Where do you focus your efforts in giving back and why is it important for you?

Ms. Kane: Giving back is not just important to me, it is also vitally important to my people. Several years ago I asked my employees to nominate a charity and to tell me why that charity was important to them. Some of the nominations were for cancer research because we have several employees who have either battled cancer themselves or have someone near to them who has battled it. Because we are nearly all veterans, of course there were veterans groups nominated because my people feel very strongly about taking care of veterans and their families. We also have given to Habitat for Humanity because as a company we all agree that we have been given great blessings and we understand that not everyone has the same experience. We understand what a difference it can make just knowing that your family has a roof over their heads and secure place to live. We also believe in the concept of sweat equity that Habitat for Humanity requires for each of the houses they build. We know that people take pride in what they have worked for.

 

CEOCFO: What is ahead for the company?

Ms. Kane: I am hoping that with a change in administration there will be additional funding made available for projects like the ones that we work on so that our military and government customers can expand as needed to ensure our nation’s security and we can grow as a company and keep doing what we love. At I-4 LLC we are a company of veterans still proudly serving America. That is what I hope to see on the horizon.

 

“I am hoping that with a change in administration there will be additional funding made available for projects like the ones that we work on so that our military and government customers can expand as needed to ensure our nation’s security and we can grow as a company and keep doing what we love. At I-4 LLC we are a company of veterans still proudly serving America.”- Ann M. Kane


 

Innovate International Intelligence & Integration, LLC.

www.i-4llc.com

 

Contact:

Christa Wilkinson

478-953-3355

cswilkinson@i-4llc.com



Innovate International Intelligence & Integration, LLC.

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